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Home » News » Threads: The Quilts of Ms. Gussie Beatrice Arnold Hill

Threads: The Quilts of Ms. Gussie Beatrice Arnold Hill

Published September 11, 2014

Exhibit functioning: September 9th–October 3rd, 2014 in WJB Gallery
FREE admission!

"Block and Strip Variation Pattern" quilt

“No. 18 Block and Strip Variation Pattern” hand-stitched by Ms. Gussie Beatrice Arnold Hill

Threads: The Quilts of Ms. Gussie Beatrice Arnold Hill is an exhibit featuring the meticulous needlework and idea behind each neatly-woven quilt. Ms. Hill, who lived from 1912 to 1988, was born in Tallahassee to an African-American, Seminole and Spanish lineage. She became a motherly figure in her family after their mother passed away and was nicknamed “Big Annie” by her family. She was married to Reverend Gus Ward Hill and participated in many spiritual and religious tasks around the community.

Ms. Hill designed and stitched each quilt by hand, often working from underneath the materials as they hung from the ceiling. The creation of these quilts was a symbol of strength during the times of hardship, especially since African American cultural achievements and contributions were devalued. For her, there was a spiritual connection in crafting these quilts. According to Maddie Codling, curator of the exhibit and FSU Department of Art graduate student, Ms. Hill used to wrap the quilts around her body and lay still on the ground, allowing people to walk around her.

Anjali Austin, FSU Associate Professor of Dance and Gussie Beatrice Arnold Hill’s granddaughter, directed this exhibition project to share Ms. Hill’s delicate and important art pieces with the public. They were once packed away or used in her home for bed coverings and art, but now she wants them to be recognized as something more significant.

….this artwork evokes and captures my Florida heritage a history left untold. To have a collection of this size and nature from an African-American artist of Ms. Hill’s genre is rare. In my heart I believe these quilts to be an important anthology of art. Here is an opportunity to recognize a rich legacy and explore one family’s historical journey.

Anjali Austin, Associate Professor of FSU School of Dance

 

Anjali Austin portrays how her family and ancestors have influenced the shaping of her life in her performance artwork, Threads. The exhibit and solo performance centers around 33 quilts that Ms. Hill created, which highlights the African American experience of resilience during a time of struggle.

For the exhibit, Maddie Codling says that some of the quilts are placed around the windows so that anyone walking by can experience them even if they do not enter the gallery. This makes it more inviting. Anjali Austin and Maddie Codling welcome the general public to come out and visit this exhibit.

For more information about Threads, contact aaustin@fsu.edu

 

Gallery

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Photos by Tiffany Fuentes